2015 Events


Spring 2015 – Zan Wesley Holmes, Jr Middle School

Spring 2015’s Design Your World-STEM Conference for Girls was an outstanding success!  This event was generously supported by Exxon Mobil, Capital One, Pryor Packaging and an outreach award grant from SWE International.  The March 2015 DYW event was executed completely by volunteers and a new partnership with the Dallas Independent School District. Dallas SWE was keen to expand access to this event after receiving feedback from local school teachers during a Sci-Girls workshop in January 2014.  They identified logistical challenges of metroplex travel and an increased need to reach out to newer regions in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Middle School

Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Middle School

Dallas SWE reached out to Dallas ISD’s STEM Department Executive Director Oscar Alvanrenga and Director Crystal Alexander. They identified Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Middle School as the optimum facility for an event of this kind. Jane Didear of Dallas ISD Volunteer and Partnership Services provided additional assistance. The SMU SWE student section, counseled by former Dallas SWE President Jennifer Vilbig, selected Kelly Howey to be the student Co-Chair to partner with professional Co-Chair and Dallas SWE VP of Outreach Nandika D’Souza. Lynn Mortensen continued her phenomenal volunteer recruitment efforts. One hundred twenty girls, 64 adults and 92 volunteers registered through Eventbrite, managed by DYW Webmaster and Registration Chair Shelley Stracener.

Upon arrival at Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Middle School, students picked up a lavender-colored t-shirt and goody bag made possible by AT&T and Raytheon.  The opening session was held in the school’s auditorium with plenty of space for everyone. Meagan Pollock, Director of Professional Development for the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE) led the opening program communicating the excitement and limitless potential of STEM careers. She engaged the audience in a teamwork game engaging all their senses.  Kendria Johnson, a teacher at Zan Wesley Holmes Jr., then brought her nationally recognized STEM dance troup that highlighted the importance of personal value over peer pressure. Inspired, attendees then made their way to their STEM activities. Six activities were run in 3 sessions allowing each girl to experience the design paradigm for three engineering fields.

  • Mechanical Energy- Marshmallows and Spaghetti was led by Lori Wiltz Halliburton and Ophelie Herve, SMU-SWE
  • Computer Science- Fun with Alice was led by Mayaria Johnson, UNT-SWE and ACM-W
  • Biomedical: Clearing a Path the Heart was led by Cynthia Markbreiter and Mar McCreary    SMU-SWE
  • Chemical Engineering-Polymer Jewelry was led by Alicia D’Souza, STEMcess.com    and Andres Garcia-UNT Society of Plastics Engineers
  • Aerospace Engineering: Rocket Fun, was developed by Rachel Shepherd, SMU-SWE
  • Electrical Engineering: Lights, Sound, Action was led by the Women of AT&T Jennifer Gamboa-Haker and Arianna Santiago, SMU SWE

Dallas SWE continued the SWE Outreach Award winning Parent/Educator Panel sessions this year, chaired by Anita Pacheco. After the joint opening session, the parent/educator group convened in the auditorium. Amber Scheurer moderated a panel discussion, “Helping students prepare for a STEM career,” with Joey Jiang (Halliburton), Cherrie Fisher (AT&T), and Justa Trevino (Raytheon).  The panelists shared challenges they faced such as being the first in the family to go to college or having to learn English as a second language. They also discussed their experiences overcoming bias in the workplace and strategies they used to encourage their children in STEM.

Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Middle School is home to a nationally competitive underwater robotic team!  Students on the team demonstrated their robot for the group of adults and the team’s teacher sponsor, Michelle Thomas, shared her best practices for parents and educators to work with their schools to replicate their success.  Then parents and educators had time to connect with each other and professional engineers over lunch.

They reconvened in the auditorium for a panel called “My Engineering Life” moderated by Anita Pacheco (Oorvo, Inc). The panelists, recent engineering graduates, included Jennifer Vilbig (Vilbig & Associates, Amber Scheurer (Texas Instruments) and Shelley Stracener (Heads Up Technologies).  They talked about the impact of an engineering degree on their income level and financial independence, how they enjoyed working in teams, and how their work experiences were very team-focused. They highlighted this last point because engineering is often misunderstood as a reclusive job with little social interaction.  After the panel, Nandika D’Souza then went over the steps that are involved in college admissions using materials provided by Landon Ellison, Admissions Officer, Engineering, UNT. The adults found the session to be very rewarding in providing a road map to assist children.

As the end of the day drew near, students and volunteers moved back to the auditorium. Dallas SWE members elicited squeals of excitement as they put on an Engineering Fashion Show, displaying all the different careers and clothing an engineer uses in her everyday work!  Then, an AT&T-led high school robot team showed a design they created.  As children and adults filled out assessments and left, the excitement from attendees was unmistakable: engineering unleashes energy, ideas, and possibilities!

Engineering Fashoin Show!

Engineering Fashion Show!

Volunteer organizations that supported the event included Women of AT&T, Halliburton and Abbott; student sections of UNT-Society of Plastics Engineers, UNT-Society of Women Engineers and UNT-ACM.

Visit our Facebook page for more great photos!

Check out these great videos from our day of fun and learning!
Video prepared by Student Co-Chair Kelly Howey
Dallas ISD Education Technology department’s video

Fall 2015 – Southern Methodist University

Fall 2015’s Design Your World-STEM Conference for Girls was an exciting day of learning and fun at Southern Methodist University! Over 80 volunteers brought five activities to 150 students and special session to 80 adult parents / educators:

  • Chemical Engineering: Design your own polymer jewelry with a range of colors and shapes
  • Electrical Engineering: Use LEDs and lights to design a twinkling headband
  • Computer Science: Learn game design and debugging through programming with Alice
  • Biomedical Engineering: Be the surgeon and make a medical device
  • Mechanical Engineering: Team together to make the fastest and most efficient rollercoaster car

Adult sessions included:

  • Kick-off speaker Amy Brunson of Raytheon started the day with some excellent career and parenting tips in her presentation “We’re raising engineers, and they don’t even know it”.
  • The next panel consisted of 3 parents that have had successful engineering careers themselves, and how they inspire their children to choose STEM fields. There was great discussion about the trade-off parents face when encouraging their students to be well rounded and to excel academically.
  • The second panel, consisting of Kelly, Becca, Kimmy, and Zaineb, discussed their personal stories, how they chose engineering, the influence their families had, and how different their jobs are to what they might have pictured doing when they chose their respective fields. This generated questions about what motivated them to stay with engineering when the classes got tough, and what it’s like to be a young woman in the workplace.
  • After lunch, the parents and educators were able to either join their students for a hands-on activity, or take a tour of the SMU engineering buildings and campus.


At the end of the day, everyone enjoyed our popular “Engineering Fashion Show” where working engineers and students display their daily attire and how it keeps them and the products they work on safe! Thank you to our hosts at SMU and to our sponsors: Exxon Mobil (Platinum), State Farm and Abbott (Gold) and Capital One (Silver). A special thanks also to our wonderful volunteers who take time out of their busy schedules as working professionals to donate their time and talents to area students and parents!

Enjoy a selection of photos below and check out our full Facebook photo album here to recapture the excitement and memories from another Design Your World – STEM Conference for Girls!

Check out this article about the event from SMU News!

Enjoy this video from our Fall 2015 Design Your World STEM Conference for Girls!

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